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Making a Difference

​~ Carol Dixon

So many tragedies are happening now

in the world. Earthquakes, floods,

unwarranted wars of aggression

against peaceful countries, drought,

disease, hunger...and the list goes on.

Those of us who care about the toll

these events take on our fellow humans and the animals and the lands where they occur often feel so helpless. It causes sadness and even depression, even though we aren't the ones who are directly involved as victims.

I've followed the unjust war against Ukraine from the start. Something I've learned by watching these courageous people respond to one atrocity after another is the power of each individual to make a difference. I see them dancing in the underground subway stations, bringing flowers to those they love, singing on the battlefield, adopting one lost animal after another and forming a permanent bond, and so many other seemingly small gestures that make a big difference both to the giver and receiver in terms of them being able to stay positive and strong. They're putting humanity above the tragedies that surround them. And they're doing it with acts of kindness and compassion, and humor and a love of life. They're using their creativity and ingenuity to help others physically as well as to inspire others to keep up their spirits and stay positive.

I think we can all learn a beautiful lesson from this. We may not have much money to donate to the recovery of tragedies elsewhere in the world. We may not be in a position to travel to help others in a crisis. But that doesn't mean we don't feel sadness for the burdens they bear. So what can we do? Like the courageous Ukrainians, we can look around in our immediate life and see opportunities to make life a little better for another person, for a lost/abandoned animal, for our Earth.

Maybe we have a neighbor who is going through hard times. Sometimes it's just as simple as letting them know we care and that we're available if they want to talk. Bringing food, or something they need, even if it's a used item, can make such a difference.

In areas that are experiencing natural disasters, what are some things one person can do to help? If we don't have the ability to volunteer full time we can still do small things to help like donate some clothing we we no longer use, adopt an abandoned pet, donate some food items to a place that's working to feed those who have been displaced from their homes. If we take a look at our own skills and talents, maybe there is something we can offer to make others feel better.

The point is that by doing small acts of kindness and compassion, we not only help someone else, but we help ourselves. You know that feeling of relief and satisfaction you get when you do something good for another person, or animal, or to make things better in any way? Just think about the impact it would have if we all understood that we can actually make a difference, not only in big ways, but in small ways. It's a way to avoid being overwhelmed by all that's happening and feeling helpless to make things better. It's a way to set an example for others. We don't have to be rich. We don't have to be powerful. We just have to take small actions that are motivated by our compassion, and we can make a difference for others and for ourselves.

Photo Credit: In my 'day job' I speak with United Methodist Ukrainian clergy about once every six weeks. This photo is from efforts inside Ukraine to relieve the suffering. (photo courtesy from Oleg Starodubets) ~ WNT President Billie Fidlin